We’re here at the 8th edition of the CIO summit - what are your initial thoughts?

The event has proved very successful for Hitachi Data Systems – it has been a fun and productive experience filled with excellent customer meetings. A number of organisations we have had existing relationships with have decided to further develop their relationships with us and we were able to explore opportunities to support new organisations as well.

As a company you provide an array of data solutions including storage, networking and software – what areas of your business have seen the most demand in the Middle East and why?

I think this may be from our converged side – we are probably best known within this region for our storage solutions. However, a topic of interest while speaking with our customers has been how we converge a lot of their disparate solutions and siloed platforms. Their main concern is how they can bring all those items into one manageable solution that will deliver everything they need- which is something that we have been working to achieve with our Unified Compute Platform (UCP). From these conversations, we anticipate this segment to be very strong for us this year.

Hitachi Data Systems announced the launch of the Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform G1000, which achieved an SPC-1 result, breaking the two million SPC-1 IOPS ceiling for the first time. It is clear you prioritise investing in R&D. In which areas would you say are you focused at the moment (in terms of R&D)?

Converged platforms, in conjunction with the success of the storage solutions such as the G1000 will continue to be developed over the next few years. Network management is key for implementing efficiency in creating one management tool and being able to manage these converged systems from one platform. In the past, one of the issues has been multiple  platforms with individual management tools- which can be quite complicated to manage. As a    result, we have invested in creating one overarching management solution that will allow us to manage various systems from one screen.

Hitachi Data Systems appears to be on a spending spree at the moment, particularly in the areas of big data and cloud. I’m of course referring to proposed takeover of oXya, the company currently providing of services for cloud and SAP solutions and analytical specialist Pentaho. Starting with oXya can you expand on the motivation behind this acquisition and how Hitachi intends on improving on the standards set by oXya?

Prior to the acquisition of oXya, we were already a SAP certified partner, so we were delivering SAP Hana platforms onto our Unified Compute Platforms (UCP). We have taken on oXya as we have already worked with them as a partner and established a relationship that will allow us to move towards the larger work required behind integration, it is far easier to acquire an organisation that already has a number of people with the relevant skillset, rather than trying to build this internally. We are currently experts in an area and they are experts in another; by bringing the two together, we can offer a complete solution to a customer. What it also enables us to do is to take oXya and grow it, so we can bring that at its ‘embryonic’ phase into the Hitachi fold to eventually grow globally. From experience and reputation in our industry, we know that SAP Hana is a major growth platform for the future.  This makes it a very strategic platform for us to work with and hope to close the approvals in March.

According to Bloomberg the Pentaho deal is worth an estimated $500 million. What is your opinion about the current state of Big Data, and in your opinion what is Hitachi doing to enable users to better process this source of information?

Big Data is certainly something we’ve heard a lot about during this year’s CIO Summit. We’re starting to see it move from a good idea, to real world implementation across all sorts of verticals.  Health care and transportation for example is another very strong area; both in terms of trains, airplanes and our individuals cars. All aspects of this data from the management, position, speed and reliability can be gathered according to potential problems. Hence the integration of these systems with GPS and onboard warning systems into one platform show a huge amount of opportunity. In the case of Pentaho, it positions and also allows us to jump straight in with what has already been achieved within the machine-to-machine base and to be ready for the next phase. We heard some incredible statistics quoted from IDC yesterday with reference to the internet of things; that by the year 2020, 50 billion devices will be online. What makes that number particularly interesting is the fact that our current world population is only around 8 billion. Looking into this, if you take into account the sheer amount of data that will be generated by those devices, what do you do with that information? How do you manage it or use it to improve your business and improve our lives when it comes to aspects such as healthcare. One of the other statistics that was announced yesterday was that 90% of all data on the web was produced in the last two years- so how do we manage and control that amount of data? How do you make sure that the relevant data is kept and processed and the irrelevant information is discarded? The management of this data becomes absolutely critical. Just, putting it on tapes and disk drives is not a solution to anything. This is where Big Data steps in and an area of interest that Hitachi Data Systems has been heavily involved in developing our Hitachi Content Platform portfolio. It opens the opportunity to truly integrate a solution that brings together object storage, file sync and share and file gateways to create truly secure, simple and smart cloud storage solution- moving into the age of data mobility.

I’d like to move on to covering the series of IDC events for which there are eight in total - is Hitachi Data Systems interested in any particular market throughout the African and the Middle Eastern regions?

I do not believe there is a particular one – we are going to be opening a new office in KSA so we see that area as a huge growth area and the business that’s being done there is already immense. We see the future there being very bright for us and in the whole of this region.

What is the general message from Hitachi Data Systems, in particular to those who will be attending the various CIO conferences over the coming months?

One of the key messages that we try to communicate is that we are far more than a storage company. The acquisitions we have just talked about moving into the computer side and data analytics side, we are now able to offer a far broader solution set than we were maybe even two years ago. I think if you continue to watch us over the next two years, the transformation will continue to grow and to accelerate. There will be new social innovations; in particular as we move into the realm of smart cities- managing the infrastructure of an entire city is going to be the next big challenge.